As Jake Shields continues to make his climb into the UFC’s welterweight division he will soon undoubtedly be dragged into the long-standing debate about the promotion pitting teammate vs. teammate.
Coming from his base camp with Cesar Gracie, Shields trains with some of the top fighters in the world including Strikeforce champions Gilbert Melendez and Nick Diaz. He also happens to train with new 170-pound fighter Nate Diaz, who has been making his own steady climb up the welterweight ranks.
Shields and Diaz have trained together for years, and while the former Strikeforce middleweight champion wants to keep his new employers happy, there are some fights that he would rather change a weight class to avoid.
“Nate’s fighting in the UFC too, but we’ll find a way to avoid each other,” Shields told MMAWeekly Radio recently. “I know Dana’s big on teammates fighting each other, but like I said I can go to 85, he can go to 55.
“I look at Nate like he’s my little brother, so I don’t see us fighting. One of us will move over.”
Diaz has stated in the past that he hopes to compete at both 155 pounds and 170 pounds. While he hasn’t commented on the situation, it’s very likely he would take the exact same stance as his close friend and training partner.
On the flip side, Shields has also spent excessive amounts of time sparring and training with the team at American Kickboxing Academy over the years. Jon Fitch has commented that he started working with Shields almost in the beginning of his time training with the San Jose, Calif., based team.
While Shields remains close with the team, he says a bout against Fitch or Josh Koscheck, especially if he’s the welterweight champion, would be all about business.
“I’ve been training with him forever. I mean, I’ll definitely fight him because it’s business, but fighting against your sparring partners is kind of weird to me. Not that I won’t do it, just not something I’m really stoked to do,” Shields said about a possible match-up with Josh Koscheck down the road.
The topic will likely continue to be a hot button subject as teams continue to grow, but Shields has said he’ll fight just about anyone outside of Diaz if it means getting his hands on the UFC welterweight championship.